You are here
Le Nozze di Figaro Le Nozze di Figaro Mozart 

Five Facts to know about Mozart and Da Ponte’s The Marriage of Figaro

Here are five facts to know about The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), one of the greatest operas ever written. 230 years after its premiere, we are still talking about it, performing it, and relishing in its glorious sounds and characters. Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) is based on a French play by the name of La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro (The Mad Day, or the Marriage of Figaro), written by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais in 1778. It is the second play in the…

Read More
Lucia di Lamermermoor, Mad Scene Bellini Donizetti Mozart New to opera Styles, definitions, and more Sutherland Verdi 

Mad Scenes

  They were all the rage in the early 19th century, a time when bel canto dominated the operatic stage. The vast majority of mad scenes were written for the leading soprano, providing her the ultimate opportunity to showcase her skills. Many of these pieces are extremely demanding, full of expressive and challenging coloratura passages. Here are some of the most famous mad scenes in the canon… “Il dolce suono” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, sung by the masterful Joan Sutherland in one of her signature roles. The piece was…

Read More
Most Popular Operas Mozart New to opera Puccini Rossini Verdi 

Top 10 Most Popular Operas in the World

Here are the ten most popular operas by number of performances according to Operabase, perhaps the world’s greatest organizer of data relating to the world of opera. The figures apply to the 2015/2016 season. Verdi appears twice, Puccini and Mozart three times each, and Bizet and Rossini both once. La traviata, by Verdi. This masterpiece was performed a whopping 4190 times in the 2015/2016 season. Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), by Mozart. This singspiel moved up from number seven in 2014/2015 to number two! This work is full of magic…

Read More
Recitative Mozart New to opera Recitative Rossini Verdi 

What is recitative?

You may have heard the term recitative when you hear people talk about opera, but what exactly is recitative? This is my definition of recitative – any semi-spoken, semi-sung non-repetitive part of an opera that advances the action. Typically, the earlier the opera is, the easier it is to distinguish between recitative and other operatic sections, such as arias or ensemble pieces. Don’t just take my word for it; listen to the great Leonard Bernstein talk about recitative… +10

Read More

Can / should opera be politically correct?

I was reading the libretto to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Mozart when I saw the following lines, sung by Monostatos: Alles fühlt der Lieve Freuden, (All may feel the joys of love,) Schnabelt, tandelt, hertzt und küßt; (trifle, flirt, fondle and kiss;) Und ich sollt’ die Liebe meiden, (and I abstain from love,) 00

Read More

A few arias to go along with your coffee

Opera music can be a bit much to chew early in the morning, but here are a few pieces that I find go well with my morning coffee. Although not an aria, it just can’t get much more beautiful than that, can it? Those french horns – wow! “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” is from Wagner’s Lohengrin. I think the title of the piece does a fairly good job explaining what’s happening in the opera when you hear it. 00

Read More

Orchestral Commentary – an operatic layer

I’m with Wagner when he talks about how opera is (or should be) a gesamtkunstwerk – one of those terms that tends to pop up on college music history quizzes. I think of this term as describing an all-encompassing art form, a grand synthesis of media. Undoubtedly this describes opera, which brings together theater, music, stagecraft, costume, and story, just to name a few elements. What makes opera so fascinating is how it uses the interplay among these art forms to create something greater than the sum of its parts….

Read More